Peralta board approves Gilkerson as Laney College president

Laney College President Tammeil Gilkerson to begin tenure in March, CCC starts process to fill vacancy


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson leads an enrollment management meeting in AA-216 on Jan. 27, 2016 after her short time leading the Contra Costa Community College District’s enrollment management task force.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Contra Costa College Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Tammeil Gilkerson was sworn in as Laney College’s president at the Peralta Community College District Governing Board’s meeting on Feb. 22.

Gilkerson, an Oakland resident, said she accepted the position via email last week before the Peralta District’s Governing Board made the announcement at its public meeting last night in the District Office Boardroom at 333 East 8th Street in Oakland.

After the board introduced her at the meeting, Gilkerson said she is excited to work at a college in her own community that reflects her personal values of equity and increasing student success.

“I am confident that my education and professional experience have prepared me to serve this remarkable college,” she said to a room full of Peralta district students, faculty and board members. “I look forward to officially joining the college and beginning my tenure at the end of March.

“During the interview process I had the opportunity to meet many of the wonderful people at (Laney) college and the (Peralta) district — including a number of visionary and articulate students,” she said. “I am excited to work with and support this talented, resilient and clearly committed group of individuals.”

Gilkerson will be replacing interim college president Audre Levy, who has served as Laney College’s president since Dec. 31, 2016.

Peralta District Executive Director of Public Information Jeffrey Hyman said the Governing Board approved Gilkerson’s $186,080 annual salary.

Because her last day as an employee at CCC will be on Monday, Gilkerson said she sent out the campuswide email to employees per college President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh’s request.

On Feb. 17, as Gilkerson sat in her office as afternoon light bounced off the dozens of brightly colored birthday balloons scattered throughout, she said the relationships she built while working on campus, and at the District Office, have helped her reach this moment.

“It’s sort of bittersweet,” Gilkerson said holding back tears. “I am really excited about this opportunity at Laney.

“I just think it’s the right time for (Laney) college, it’s the right time for (CCC) and this will be good for me as a person and professionally — but I love this place.

“So, yea,” she said as she composed herself. “I feel a little teary about it all.”

Gilkerson said the President’s Office plans go through a hiring process with online job postings and not appoint an interim person to fill her position.

Contra Costa Community College District Communications and Community Relations Director Tim Leong said the decision to appoint someone to an interim position, or as a permanent position, rests with Mehdizadeh.

“That’s a decision Mojdeh will have to make,” Leong said. “She could fill the position on an interim basis or complete the process of posting job listings and creating a time table — but this takes a couple of months to complete.”

Mehdizadeh said she plans to not replace Gilkerson with an interim appointee.

Instead, she said the responsibilities under the auspice of the vice president’s role will be split between the dean of instruction and Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson.

“In the long term we intend to go out for a full search,” Mehdizadeh said. “Tammeil submitted her letter of resignation as of today so we can move forward with the search as soon as we can.”

She said she planned to consult with district Chancellor Fred Wood about the specific timeline this week after he returned from a district sponsored trip to Washington D.C.

“We can be certain the search will start within a matter of weeks,” Mehdizadeh said.

The president’s Senior Executive Assistant Michael Peterson said Gilkerson’s passion for students is what makes her well qualified for the position at Laney College.

“She has vast experience working with people from very different backgrounds,” Peterson said. “And her knowledge of student services and academics will serve Laney College well.”

Before being hired as CCC’s vice president in 2013, Gilkerson was the dean of counseling and matriculation at Evergreen College for four years and was the vice president of San Jose City College.

“(Gilkerson) is a very focused individual who can get things done,” Mehdizadeh said. “She is good at planning projects and carrying them through to completion.

“This is something we will certainly look for in our next vice president,” she said.

“Tammeil is and always has been someone who knows when to roll up her sleeves and work alongside everyone. That is an important trait to have in a leader.”

Gilkerson said because CCC and Laney College have a similar demographic of students she understands how to serve underrepresented ethnic communities.

“I think the work I will continue at Laney College is closing the achievement gap, working around equity and inclusion programs and creating safe spaces for every individual to feel like (their local) community college is a home for them,” she said. “Not only for students but for employees too.”

She said she applied for the position in November 2016, but the Peralta District officials invited her to a series of interviews at Laney College from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and spoke at an open panel of finalists on Jan. 30, 2017.

Heyman said the hiring process spanned months and required a visit to CCC, a series of interviews and an open forum of finalists at Laney College.

Heyman said the Peralta district’s nationwide search, which began last year, vetted hundreds of applicants and Gilkerson was one of three finalists.

“The chancellor (Jowel Laguerre) of the Peralta District felt like Tammeil Gilkerson is the best candidate to be president,” he said. “And last night the board voted her to be the next president of Laney College.”